RAOUL WALSH

Raoul Walsh, the legendary director of countless classic films, was the subject of a wonderful documentary I watched recently on TCM entitled The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (2014). I’ve always been a fan of Walsh’s work but had my eyes opened to some of the man’s personal experiences of which I knew very little, such as his friendships with the likes of Mark Twain, Wyatt Earp and Pancho Villa. 
 Those factors aside, it was the man’s plethora of films that has stood the test of time as he, along with a handful of others (John Ford, Howard Hawks, etc), were the pioneers of American action films. Of course, when it came to more contemporary action films there are the likes of Robert Aldrich and Sam Peckinpah.
   I mention these gentlemen in total because one of the things they had in common is that I believe Lee Marvin may be the only actor who worked for all of them, with the exception of Howard Hawks. So, imagine my pleasant surprise when the Walsh documentary included a late life interview with Marvin. He told a great anecdote about the man that was echoed later by the likes of the late Jane Russell and Tab Hunter. 

(L-R) Phil Carey, Roberta Haynes and Lee Marvin in Raoul Walsh’s Gun Fury.

The film Marvin made for Walsh was a western programmer entitled Gun Fury (1953)  that toplined a young Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, along with Leo Gordon, Phil Carey, Roberta Haynes and Neville Brand. What isn’t mentioned n the documentary was the fact that film was shot in 3-D ….and Walsh only had one eye! 

Original poster for Gun Fury that shows Lee Marvin terrorizing Donna Reed in the top left corner.


   Also not mentioned was the ingenious additions Marvin added on camera and, according to costar Leo Gordon, the ingenious pranks he pulled off camera. all of which are recounted in Lee Marvin Point Blank. 

   Of course,the post-civil war revenge tale of Gun Fury is not one of anybody’s more impressive works but the fact it was made at all certainly looked good on Marvin’s resume’. 

The highlight of the Raoul Walsh documentary for me was the better films he made with such stalwart Warner Brothers stars as Errol Flynn (Gentleman Jim), Ann Sheridan (They Drive By Night), and mostly James Cagney (Strawberry Blonde, The Roaring Twenties & White Heat), among others. He was an original, that’s for sure and although it’s cliche’ to say it, the cliche in this case was born of truth: We shall never see his like again.

(L-R) Errol Flynn, director Raoul Walsh & set visitor James Cagney.


– Dwayne Epstein

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100 BEST FILMS OF ALL TIME

100 Best Films of All Time? Pretty impressive concept for a list, if I do say so myself. A gargantuan undertaking, to be sure, but I recently came across a website attempting to do just that. Granted, such lists have existed elsewhere, such as within the American Film Institute and elsewhere. What makes this particular list different is how updated it is to include films as recent as 2021.
   Therein lies the problem. I can understand updating a list every five or ten years or so. However, to be considered “the best” anything requires several aspects, most notably, the test of time. A film released last year may be considered great now but in a few years could be largely forgotten or considered overrated in its day. This particular list can be taken to task for just that reason among others. It also failed to acknowledge several known classics that has most definitely stood the test of time. There are no Capra classics on the list, such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) It Happened One Night (1934), and others. Also non-existent are the films of such stars as Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Jane Fonda, Steve McQueen, Meryl Streep or James Cagney. 
   Granted, such a list is highly subjective but the fact that this list was said to have been compiled by film critics makes me shake my head in disappointment as they really should have known better. Sure, nowadays everybody seems to be a film critic via social media, but if these acknowledged critics were really worthy of the title they should definitely know better!
   Okay, my rant is over…well, almost. There sis only one single solitary Lee Marvin movie on the list. No, not Point Blank (1967). Not The Dirty Dozen (1967), not even Bad Day at Black Rock (1955! The one film? Believe it or not, at number 78 — which puts it near the bottom — they chose this….

Lee Van Cleef (far left) watches as Lee ‘Liberty Valance’ Marvin holds his own up against film legends Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

And the worst part is they give away the twist ending without even a mention of a spoiler alert! I’ve always said any critic who gives away the ending of the film in a review should not be allowed to do their job. Unforgivable! 
    Okay, now the rant is over. Don’t just take my word for it in terms of the problematic aspects of the list. You can read this “100 Best Films” list for yourself by clicking this link. Read it and weep, as they used to say. In the mean time, you can always find out what made the likes of Lee Marvin more worthy of such a list, or any list for that matter, by reading Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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TRIBUTE TO NEAL ADAMS

Tribute to Neal Adams, indeed. I recently read of his passing late last month here and with the news, comes a great sense of loss. To say he was my favorite illustrator is an extreme understatement. I was fortunate to meet him once at the San Diego ComicCon years ago with some buddies of mine. I was reticent to approach him at first due to the rumors that swirled around him about how difficult he was to deal with. Turns out, that just what they rumors, he could not have been nicer or more approachable. Turned me into a regular ‘fanboy.’
   After some small talk, I broached the subject of a possible interview as I was then freelancing for Filmfax and Outre’ magazine. We exchanged contact info, I checked in with publisher Mike Stein and lo and behold, a 3-part interview with the master ensued:
Part I
Part II
Part III
I’ll let the articles speak for themselves as he was wonderfully candid and forthcoming. As to his work, allow me to show just some of the reasons why he was the best of the best. First, the Green Lantern Green Arrow first issue cover in color…

GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW (issues #76-89) by Denny O’Neill (writer) & Neal Adams (artist).

 

 
































Pretty dramatic change of pace for comic books, don’t you think? Inside, the theme of the short-lived series was set early on with this graphic…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the help of writer Denny O’Neill this series created stories and images that were the best in the business for their intensity, irreverence and most of all, powerful imagery. In the most famous and most controversial issue, Green Arrow’s ward attempts to kick his heroin addiction with the sympathetic aid of Green Arrow’s girlfriend., again in full-color…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just to show not of all Adams’ greatness lay in his Green Lantern/Green Arrow series, check out this vibrant and moody color rendition of his wrap-around reprint  cover for Batman’s Ra’s Al Ghul series….
And speaking of Batman, Adams not only did the cover for this classic but came up with the original story idea in which the Dark Knight Detective pursues some bank robbers, all while battling the demons that haunt him over the murder of his parents…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But for me, the man’s greatness will always be in the GL/GA Series.  I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to tears by a comic book’s work of art, but Adams was able to do it and I’ll give you my favorite example. I included it in the interview I did but the lack of color does not do it justice. So, here in powerful color, I give you those images, especially the last panel…
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So there you have it, my own personal tribute to Neal Adams, the man I considered to be the greatest comic book artist of all time. He once famously said, “If superheroes existed, they would look the way I draw them.” He not only was right, but with his passing, there are no more superheroes, in more ways than one.
– Dwayne Epstein.

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